So much for a clash of the titans.

The headline match of day one at the US Open, Serena v Sharapova ended up being just another in the long line of dominant victories for the American, 6-1, 6-1.

I said this yesterday, but in the aftermath it bears repeating: the course of this “rivalry” really has taken a strange turn of events. After upending Serena in the 2004 Wimbledon Final, it seemed that at the very least Sharapova would provide the occasional stumbling-block, instead, she’s been little more than a punching bag.

Now with 19 wins in a row, it’s hard to see Serena ever losing one to the Russian. Make no mistake, Sharapova is no slouch – you certainly don’t win a career grand slam otherwise – but she is undeniably Serena’s “bunny”, such is the level of dominance. Certainly if you’re looking for more reasons to label Serena the GOAT, this is a pretty good one.

Here’s your three to see on day 2 in New York:

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) [8] v Andrey Rublev (RUS) – First on Louis Armstrong

It’s the “BS Russian” against, well… not THAT Russian, but a pretty dangerous foe for the Greek nonetheless. Winless since making the semis in Washington, Tsitsipas comes in with a lot of uncertainty over his head, while Rublev has already shown his upset chops in recent weeks, having downed Roger Federer in Cincinnati, and with his ability to hit booming forehands should be a chance of doing it again here. If Tsitsipas is to avoid an early stumble, he’ll need to show far greater consistency than he did in either Montreal or Cincy, otherwise, the Russian might run through him.

Denis Shapovalov (CAN) v Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) [18] – Fourth on Grandstand

What a difference a year makes. At the same tournament here in 2018, Felix Auger Aliassime was 117th in the world and still all hype, while Denis Shapovalov seemed destined to become a top-20 mainstay – now the script has flipped, and it’s FAA who has cemented himself at the top-end of the tour, while Shapovalov’s remains just a guy who’s never met a winner attempt he didn’t like. In any case, we already saw these two play some scintillating tennis here last year, each taking a set from the other before FAA had to retire with a heart issue, so with fingers crossed nothing like that happens again, we should be in for another fun contest.

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR) [9] v Victoria Azarenka (BLR) – First Match, Night Session on Louis Armstrong

A battle of Belarusian stars past and present, both Aryna Sabalenka and Vika Azarenka come into this year’s US Open with something of a point to prove. Still yet to really regain her mojo after her hiatus in 2016-17, a win for Azarenka would mark the first significant scalp at a major of her comeback, while Sabalenka – a year removed from her star-making turn through the American swing – needs the dub to reaffirm the promise she has struggled to live up to since. Either way, there’s a lot to play for, and with Sabalenka’s punching against Azarenka’s counterpunching, this should be quite the entertaining affair regardless.


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